The Chuckwagon – Western Recipes

Recipes:

BBQ Biscuit Pie

Buffalo (or beef) Steaks with Chipotle-Coffee Rub

Chuckwagon Stew

Chunky Chili

Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Fry Bread

Cowboy Sausage and Sweet Taters

Dakota Fried Tomatoes

Green Chili

Indian Breakfast

Lazy B Corn Fritters

Missouri-Style Barbecue Ribs

Old West Sourdough Biscuits

Quick Southwest Chili

Range Riders Stew

Scalloped Corn

Venison or Beef Jerky

Venison Parmesan Over Pasta

Wagon Train Biscuits

Did you know? 

When Cookie was finished with his work for the day and before hitting the sack, he would always place the tongue of the chuck wagon facing north. When the trail master started in the morning he would look at the tongue and then knew what direction he would be moving the herd.

Camp Cook Names: Soggy, Pot Russler, Lean Skillet, Old Pud, Coosie, Old lady, Belly Cheater, Biscuit Roller, Dough Boxer, Dough Puncher, Greasy Belly, Grub Worm, Gut Robber, Sourdough, and more.

 

Cowboys around the chuckwagon

 

Chuckwagon Etiquette

  • No one eats until Cookie calls
  • When Cookie calls, everyone comes a-runnin’
  • Hungry cowboys wait for no man. They fill their plates, fill their bellies, and then move on so stragglers can fill their plates
  • Cowboys eat first, talk later.
  • It’s okay to eat with your fingers. The food is clean
  • If you’re refilling the coffee cup and someone yells “Man at the pot.” You’re obliged to serve refills.
  • Don’t take the last serving unless your sure you’re the last man.
  • Food left on the plate is an insult to the cook.
  • No running or saddling a horse near the wagon. And when you ride off, always ride downwind from the wagon.
  • If you come across any decent firewood, bring it back to the wagon
  • Strangers are always welcome at the wagon.

Recipe for Cowboy Coffee

Take two pounds of Arbuckle’s coffee, put in enough water to wet it down, boil it for two hours, then throw in a hoss shoe. If the hoss shoe sinks, she ain’t ready.

Never trust a skinny cook

— Author Unknown

You might also like: 

Campfire Recipes

The Chuck Wagon – Real Queen of the Cattle Trail

Dutch Oven Recipes

Flavors of the Mother Road – Route 66 Recipes

Frontier Recipes

Good Ole’ Fashioned Recipes

A Hill Of Beans – Baked Beans That Is

Cowboys Taking a Break

The LS outfit at the chuckwagon having dinner in the shade of a tree. LS Ranch, near Tascosa, Texas. Photo by Erwin E. Smith, 1907.

Lazy B Corn Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4  cup flour
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk

Stir dry ingredients together and add corn.  Then add the egg yolks beaten thick and fold in egg whites beaten stiff.  Fry in hot lard. Try to use a cold bowl to beat the egg whites if possible.

Cowboy Fry Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Vegetable oil

Heat the milk over the stove or in the microwave until warm but not hot. Pour into a large bowl and add yeast and sugar. Stir in beaten eggs and salt, then slowly mix in flour until mixture forms a smooth, elastic dough. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until double in size (30 minutes to one hour). Lightly flour work surface and divide dough into 12 pieces roughly the size of tennis balls, then flatten into discs. Let dough rise again, about 10 minutes.

Heat oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer, large pot or skillet. Fry dough discs one or two at a time for three to five minutes, depending on size, turning once.  Makes about 12 servings.

Cowboy Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried red beans
  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 3 green chile peppers, grilled and diced
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, grilled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 7 quarts water or vegetable stock
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 teaspoon toasted coriander seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole dried red chile peppers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, changing water once; drain.

When beans are ready, saute onion, garlic, green chiles and tomatoes in oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add water or stock and ham hock; bring to a boil. Add beans, coriander seed, bay leaf and dried chiles. Continue to boil for 30 minutes, then lower heat, cover and simmer for three to four hours, until beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Makes 16 servings.

Chunky Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound stew meat
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut up
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans pinto beans with jalapenos
  • 2 packages chili seasoning
  • 2 cans Mexican style diced tomatoes

Brown meat, chicken, pepper, and onion in a little olive oil until brown. Add chili seasoning, beans, and tomatoes. Simmer for one hour. Serve this with cornbread or tortillas, or pour over Fritos and sprinkle with cheese for a Frito pie.  Serves 12.

Buffalo (or beef) Steaks with Chipotle-Coffee Rub

Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 3 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper (or chipotle chile powder)
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 buffalo or beef steaks (8 ounces each)

Combine coffee, ground chipotle, paprika, cumin seeds, sugar and salt. Rub mixture into steaks.  Grill steaks until desired doneness.  Makes four servings.

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Cowboys at a Mess Scene, 1887

Cowboys gathered around the chuckwagon ready for “chow” on the ranch, 1887

BBQ Biscuit Pie

Ingredients:

2 Tb Canola oil 1 lb Ground Venison
1 Small onion, diced
3/4 – 1 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce 🙂
1 Can Refrigerated, uncooked biscuits
2 C Cheddar cheese

Brown ground venison in Canola oil with onion and season to taste. Stir in BBQ sauce until venison is evenly covered or to taste. Grease a 9 x 11 baking dish and line bottom of pan with biscuits. Pour Venison mixture over biscuits. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top liberally and place in an oven preheated to 350o. Bake until cheese is melted and lightly browned on top.

Chuckwagon Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb Beef cubes.(5 cups)
  • 2 Tb All-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb Paprika
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tb Lard
  • 2 Sliced onions
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 28 oz Can tomatoes
  • 3 Tb Chili powder
  • 1 Tb Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Dry chrushed red peppers
  • 2 cup Chopped potatoes
  • 2 cup Chopped carrots

Coat beef in a mixture of flour, paprika,1 tsp. chili powder and salt. Brown in hot fat in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Then add tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves and peppers. Cover and simmer 2 hrs. Add potatoes and carrots and cook until vegetables are done, about 45 minutes.  Serves 6.

Quick Southwest Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds hamburger or ground turkey
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
    or
  • 3 cans black beans
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can pitted black olives (optional)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 package Taco seasoning
  • 1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing

Fry the hamburger with the onion. When done, drain the grease and then add all the other ingredients and stir to mix well. Heat for 15 minutes or until all ingredients are hot.  Serves 8-10

Missouri-Style Barbequed Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 2 tb Salt
  • 2 tb Chili powder
  • 1/4 c Sugar
  • 4 tb Paprika
  • 2 tb Cumin, ground
  • 2 ea Racks of 3/down pork ribs**
  • 2 tb Pepper, black, fresh ground

Basting Sauce

  • 1 3/4 c Vinegar, white
  • 1 tb Salt
  • 2 tb Hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tb Pepper, black, fresh ground
  • 2 tb Sugar

The term “3/down” refers to the weight of the ribs. In this case, it is three pounds or less for each slab of 10 to 12 ribs. Combine salt, sugar, cumin, pepper, chili powder and paprika to make barbeque rub. Rub ribs thoroughly with this mixture. Place ribs on baking sheets and cook in 180-degree oven for 3 hours. Do not turn; slow cooking infuses spices. Remove from oven. (ribs may now be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days before grilling) Use very low charcoal fire with rack set as high as possible. Grill ribs 5 minutes to 30 minutes per side, depending on heat and temperature of ribs. Ribs should have light outer crust and be heated throughout. If you prefer juicy ribs, coat with basting sauce just before removing from grill. Otherwise serve dry with sauce on side. Remove ribs from grill, cut in between bones and serve.

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Grub Pile Poem Postcard

Grub Pile Poem Postcard from Legends’ General Store

Cowboy Sausage and Sweet Taters

Ingredients:

  • 2 Lbs Sweet Taters
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 2 tbsps. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Lb. of your favorite sausage

Parboil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.  Peel and cut into strips. Place in greased oven.  Mix sugars, butter, salt, water and boil in a saucepan.  Pour syrup over the potatoes and bake for around 40 minutes.  Place sausages on top and bake for and additional 30 minutes.

Dakota Fried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 6 large green tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cream or milk
  • 1 Tblsp flour
  • 1 Tblsp butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Slice the green tomatoes very thin and salt and pepper each slice liberally.  Then dip these slices in flour until each is thickly covered.  Deep fry in hot oil until nicely browned.  Drain the fried slices on brown paper.  When all the slices are fried and drained, empty the skillet of excess cooking oil.  Now put in the cream or milk.  Add 1 tblsp flour to thicken.  Stir in the butter, salt & pepper.  Blend well.  Place the fried tomatoes in a bowl and pour this mixture over them.  Serve immediately.

Indian Breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz hominy
  • chopped yellow onion
  • 2-3 slices fried crumbled bacon, sausage or ham
  • bell pepper (optional)
  • dash cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5 beaten eggs

Saute in large skillet hominy, a handful of chopped yellow onion,  and meat.  Optional: Add a small amount of finely chopped bell pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper.  After sauteing on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes add 5 beaten eggs.  Stir & cook until eggs are barely done.

Scalloped Corn

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups corn
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 c. soft bread crumbs

Mix corn, egg, milk, and seasonings.  Mix crumbs and butter and place 1/4 of the mixture in the bottom of buttered dish.  Add half of the corn mixture, then another 1/4 of crumbs.  Repeat layers, ending with the balance of crumbs.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve hot.  Serves 6.

Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases Book by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

NOW IN A BOOK FORM
More Terms, Expanded Definitions + Reverse Lookup + More Pictures

Venison or Beef Jerky

Jerky is practically indestructible, lasts almost forever and can be used as either a quick main meal or a basis for soups and stews. The word jerky comes from the method in which the meat is removed from the bones. It was jerked away quickly so as to eliminate many of the sinews. Three pounds of fresh meat equals about 1 lb. jerky.

Method 1: (Indian style) Hang strips of meat on racks made of willows to dry in the sun or sometimes in the smoke of the campfire for a smoked flavor.

Method 2: (pioneer) Rub strips of meat with dry salt and put in a stone crock to “season” for 24 hrs. (use no water) Then remove the strips and hang in sun or smokehouse to dry until very hard.

Method 3: Mix together 3 lbs. salt, 5 Tbsp. black pepper and 4 Tbsp. Allspice.

Skin one thigh of the animal, muscle by muscle removing all the membranes so that only the raw and moist flesh remains. Best size meat is pieces about 1 foot long 6″ wide and 2 or 3 inches thick. Rub the salt spice mixture into the meat. Be sure to cover every bit of the meat’s surface. Hang each piece by the small end to dry. If the sun is too hot, hang it in the shade. Never let the meat get wet or even damp, take it inside if it rains. Cover the meat with canvas or cloth to protect it from the dew. This will be at it’s best at a month old.

Method 4:  (Modern Style):  Purchase a large beef brisket from your butcher and ask them to slice it very thinly for you.  Dip each strip into a bowl of liquid smoke then lay in a large deep dish.  Continue to lay each strip until the bottom of the dish is filled.  Then sprinkle liberally with garlic salt and lots of pepper.  Lay another row of strips on top of the first, in the alternate direction.  Continue to dip and season each strip.  Marinate for at least 24 hours.  Line oven with foil and lay strips directly on the foil very close together and bake at very low heat for hours or until the strips are very dry.  Warning:  This will make your house smell of liquid smoke for days.

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Chuckwagon

Cookie at the Chuckwagon. Click for prints, downloads, and products.

Venison Parmesan Over Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 thinly cut steaks of Venison tenderloin
  • 1 C Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 LG eggs beaten with 1 tbsp Milk
  • Olive oil
  • 2 C Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce or homemade sauce
  • 1 lb long, thin spaghetti pasta
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese

Place enough oil in the bottom of a frying pan to coat (about 1/4 inch deep). Heat oil on Med-Low setting. Dredge steaks first in bread crumbs, then egg, then bread crumbs again. Place steaks in heated oil and pan-fry until both sides are browned. Then, drain excess oil from the steaks. Next, coat the bottom of a 9 x 11 baking pan with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce and place steaks on the bottom, then, add another layer of sauce over the breaded steaks. Finally, sprinkle Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese liberally on top. Bake in a preheated oven set at 375o until mozzarella cheese is golden brown on top. Serve over long spaghetti.

Old West Sourdough Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/3 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl; mix. Cut in shortening until it looks like coarse meal. Add sourdough starter to milk. Stir with a fork until moist. Do not over-stir. Turn dough out on lightly floured board, then gently pat into a 10-inch circle. Cut; place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Wagon Train Biscuits

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups flour
  •  4 teaspoons sugar
  •  2 teaspoons salt
  •  1 teaspoon soda
  •  4 teaspoons baking powder
  •  2/3 cup (lard) shortening
  •  2/3 cup buttermilk

Measure all dry ingredients and place them into a large bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal. Stir in buttermilk.

If the dough is not pliable, add just enough buttermilk to make a soft, puffy, easy-to-roll dough. Round up dough on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Knead lightly 20 to 25 times, about 1 minute. Roll out until 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter (you could also use a glass). Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 450-degree oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Kathy’s Green Chili (Yup, that’s Kathy of Legends of America.)

Ingredients:

  • Lard
  • Flour
  • 2-3 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 – 15oz can stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 8oz cans chopped green chilies
  • 3-4 whole jalapenos
  • large onion
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
  • 1- 15 oz can refried beans (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cans chicken stock

Slice pork into small pieces and brown with garlic and 1/4 diced onion in lard. Add flour towards the end for thickener. Then add 3-4 cups of water, one can of chicken stock, and salt and pepper. Cook several hours until pork begins to fall apart. Chop remaining onion, slice whole jalapenos into thirds and add with all other ingredients. This will cook for several more hours on low heat. Be cautious as the chili easily sticks to the bottom of the pan. Taste periodically for “hotness” of the jalapenos, and depending upon taste, remove when to your desired “heat.” When close to complete, if the chili is too thin, remove about two cups liquid in a bowl, whisk in more flour for thickening, and return to the chili. Serve with flour tortillas. Great poured over burritos.

Range Riders Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb green cooking Apples
  • 5 Tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 lb Beef already cooked
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • dash Nutmeg
  • 1/4 lb Onions sliced
  • Salt
  • 3 lbs cooked sliced Potatoes
  • pepper
  • 3 cups gravy

Add Onions to melted Butter band brown, remove Onion rings, melt rest of Butter and saute Apple slices. Layer 1/3 of Potatoes, Meat, onion rings and Apples. Season with Salt, Nutmeg, and Pepper. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used. Pour gravy over top. Butter breadcrumbs and layer overall. Bake @ 350°F for 1 hour.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March 2020.

Got a recipe that fits the Old West!  Shoot us a note or leave in the comments below. Thanks, Pard!

Coloring History by Legends of America

Coloring History by Legends of America. Available at Legends’ General Store.

Back to the Chuckwagon Menu

You might also like: 

Campfire Recipes

The Chuck Wagon – Real Queen of the Cattle Trail

Dutch Oven Recipes

Flavors of the Mother Road – Route 66 Recipes

Frontier Recipes

Good Ole’ Fashioned Recipes

A Hill Of Beans – Baked Beans That Is

9 thoughts on “The Chuckwagon – Western Recipes”

  1. Hi,
    Me and my family are planning a self made trip in West USA and we would like to have a dinner like a “real old west bivouac under the stars” (or chuck wagon cooking?).
    Someone can advise me if there are some places that organize this kind of events? Or can you give me information about it?
    Thank you so much for all your advice
    Kind Regards
    Enrico from Italy

    1. The Rattlesnake camp grounds in Alabama is putting on trail rides and Chuck wagon cooking next weekend starts Thursday 21st

    2. Ciao Enrico! Many years ago (about 1997 when my son was 11), we took a trip out West and stayed at a great little place near Chimney Rock near Scots Bluff, Nebraska on the Oregon Trail. I think it was this place (from the description):Oregon Trail Wagon Train at the Base of Chimney Rock near Bayard , Bayard, NE 69334 –(308) 586-1850 / See Description at: https://www.trekaroo.com/activities/oregon-trail-wagon-train-bayard-nebraska. There is also a museum in Scot’s Bluff and hiking trails and Carhenge is not too far away. We stayed in a log cabin that had a chuckwagon meal cooked outdoors along with a cowboy sing-along. They also had a Conestoga wagon (both day and overnight) trips out to Chimney Rock. If you want to stand in the ruts of the Oregon Trail and take a Conestoga ride to Chimney Rock, this is a great location to stop! I did see some other websites that offer camping in Conestoga wagons by doing a search for Conestoga Wagon trips in western USA. There were some in Utah and Yosemite. Good luck and hope you enjoy your trip to the “Wild West”!

    3. Bar D Ranch in Durango, CO. A little dude ranchy/touristy but a whole lotta fun with a cowboy band to boot. Dave S

    4. See Beautiful Jackson Hole Wyoming! The “Bar J Chuckwagon” and the “Bar T 5” are authentic Chuckwagon experiences. Both include amazing food and family fun entertainment! (Old western music/comedy)

  2. These recipes are fantastic and excellent. I’m a senior and watch all the Old Westerns as I grew up on a ranch so being on limited income I realized they got by on next to far less than we have today but few went hungry so I wanted a Site Exactly like this for True recipes. My grandparents were ranchers over and over so it all fits. Wonderful!
    Thank you.

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